Thursday, May 10, 2007

HDTV & Adult Acne

All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up.
We all know what happened to Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard and we of the 21st century are definitely not ready for our HDTV close-up. Broadcasting in the hot new digital technology makes TV faces look as crisp and sharp as...the real thing and we viewers aren't used to seeing the real thing in Hollywood. Just as talkies and technicolor redefined Hollywood stardom in the past, so too will high-definition, where every feature is in IMAX and in your face.

High definition televisions can display two million pixels, nearly 10 times the resolution of a regular, old-style TV set, on a screen the size of your dining room table. If an actor is aging or if they've got any skin damage, it just pops out at you. Additionally, more colors are used in HDTV, including some new shades of red: all the blotches, zits and tiny nose-veins can be presented with the brutal clarity of a dermatology textbook!

High-def is, in essence, a medium peculiarly unsuited to dissembling.

Who do you think is scary in high-def? Various lists name Teri Hatcher (42) and Rosie O'Donnell (45), underscoring that too little fat in the face looks skeletal and too much can't camouflage coarse skin. And broadcast news may suffer ala Tim Burton's Batman: Meredith Vieira (54) of the Today Show looks her age without botox and airbrushing. On HD-tv older definitely looks older. And it's guaranteed you'll never feel the same about It's Only Rock 'n' Roll after seeing Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on high-def. Both 63-year-old men are walking morality tales for the ravages of drugs, age, and rock 'n' roll.

High-def is particularly unforgiving of bad facial plastic surgery, young or old. It would have long ago spelled the end of tv roles for Michael Douglas (63), Burt Reynolds (71), Cher (60), Joan Rivers (73), Mary Tyler Moore (70), Faye Dunaway (66) and the like.

You can just as easily get slammed in HDTV for having imperfect skin. Many accomplished screen actors have relied on heavy makeup to blend into their parts and erase a legacy of acne, yet makeup artists are ham-strung with this new technology. Bill Murray (56), Tommy Lee Jones (60), Lawrence Fishburne (45), and Cameron Diaz (34) will never again pass for scar-free on television.

It's not enough to be merely young (though it helps). Britney Spears, everyone's favorite pop tart, looks 10 years older on HDTV, her face puffy and blemished with pucker wrinkles marking her two-pack-a-day cigarette habit. To truly look great in this new technology you need smooth skin and a healthy complexion.

Acne is a condition of the sebaceous glands, the glands attached to hair follicles which produce an oily substance called sebum. A lesion forms the hair follicle becomes plugged with sebum and dead cells.

Twenty-five percent of all adult men and 50% of adult women experience acne at some point. That's 1 in 5 women between ages 25 & 40. Male acne normally starts at age 12, gets worse at 16, and is outgrown by one's early 20s. Girls often breakout earlier but not so violently and continue to have flare-ups longer (witness Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Jessica Simpson all of whom endorse an overpriced OTC acne treatment line).

In adult acne, hormones, stress, and bad habits all contribute. Less commonly, chafing pressure (sports equipment) and some medications (anabolic steroids, anti-epileptic or anti-tuberculosis drugs, lithium and iodine-containing Rxs) can be the reason.

The pathogenic (disease-causing) events in the sebaceous glands are believed to be due in large part to changes in levels of androgenic (male) hormones in the body. This is why pregnant women often experience acne on their chest and back. It also explains the mid-40s onset when a woman's female hormonal levels drop, leaving endogenous androgens unopposed.

When under stress, the adrenal glands (which are located above the kidneys) overproduce cortisol as well as androgens in both men and women. These hormones in turn stimulate the sebaceous glands to secrete more sebum, which ultimately results in the formation of zits and yet more stress! It's also been established that psychological stress can decrease the wound healing capacity of immune systems by up to 40%. This factor doubles the impact of stress on acne.

And last, but not least, are the things we do to ourselves. Picking, rubbing, and scrubbing all aggravate acne-prone skin. The biggest science breakthrough in acne care has been the development vitamin A treatments, both topical formulations and oral (Accutane). Some of the best OTC products were developed by the scientist behind Retin-A, Dr. James Fulton and are readily available on the internet.


Courtney said...

I wish I knew the magic combination. Tried so many things. Paid big bucks and tried a lot of cheap stuff too. I tried modifying my diet to see if that helped.

The spa-salons want a zillion dollars for the best treatments and then maintanence, which I cannot afford.

Really what it comes down to is hormones. Stress, menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause...

I take evening primrose oil for the hormone balancing effects.

That and the regime I have now seems to be able to help, but I can never get rid of the acne 100%. There is always something on my face :( and I'm 32.

I secretly love it when I see holleywood stars with acne.

ANNE said...

It is a kind of schadenfreude to witness their breakouts, isn't it? I personally use the OTC Vivant Skin Care line - believe me, I've been guinea pig for every medical lotion and potion to come along - and this is the best. It has good science and the price point is affordable.